12 December 2018

Nigeria: Discordant Tunes in Niger APC Ahead of 2019 Elections

The division in the Niger State chapter of the APC over the substitution saga in the primaries may hamper the chances of the party in the 2019 general elections if not resolved. JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH writes

Feelers coming from Niger State chapter of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) are not pleasing symphonies for a party in desirous of electoral victory. Following a poorly handling of its Senatorial Primaries in the state, where the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee did the unimaginable by supplanting winners with losers, it has been unending doses of vituperations, anger and curses.

Political observers contend that there is heightened resentment; palpable tension and coordinated threat to bring to debris the fortune of the party come 2019. Feelers from the state showed that the people are pained, aggrieved and brewing in venom following the daylight political treachery that greeted the party's senatorial primaries.

Of close reference is the case of Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa who floored the incumbent Senator David Umaru in the October Senatorial Primary for the Zone B District. According to reports, he cruised to a plausible victory with measurable votes of about 39,192 to defeat David Umaru who garnered 5,870 votes. And same of Hon. Haliru Zakari Jikantoro of Zone C that scored 11,658 to defeat Senator Sabi Abdullahi who came distance third.

How David and Sabi became the party's candidates as against Mohammed Sani Musa and Haliru Zakari Jikantoro remains a puzzle for political watchers and pundits. As they say, the party since then has murdered its beautiful sleep and has been enmeshed in the needless rains of attrition.

Keen observers of the polity ask shouldn't this saga end soon instead of the obstinate sustenance of impunity? Shouldn't the party toe a honorable lane by giving back to Sani Musa, Jikantoro and others their mandates overwhelmingly gotten from APC members in Niger State?

There is no denying the reality that the feelers coming out of the camp of the aggrieved and robbed members of APC in Niger state is fiercely potent, it portends threatening concerns and the party should be worried about this, the discordant tunes aren't feeble, there are lethal. If nothing is done, it may affect the fortune of the party as the 2019 elections approach. It is difficult to galvanize formidable supporters who are disillusioned. This is why it is expedient for the leadership of the party to do the needful by resorting to the lane of fairness and justice.

The denial of the popular mandate of Alhaji Sani Musa and other senatorial aspirants duly nominated and elected through the direct primaries method is so unfair, uncivilized and embarrassing and has created uncertainty, resentments, and potential voters apathy that now cloud the political landscape of Niger state.

Thus, it is only natural to expect that the support base of these legitimately aggrieved and deprived Niger State APC senatorial aspirants may stage a protest vote in the next general elections against the seating senators awarded on a platter of gold the surreptitious automatic tickets by the Oshiomhole led-NWC, a decision which for the hundreds of thousands of party faithful that voted for their senatorial aspirants of choice considers as diametrically opposed to the will of the majority expressed in direct primaries that was widely adjudged to be free, fair and credible by election observers.

This may have a destabilizing effect on the fortune of the party in the 2019 elections if the North-Central reconciliation committee headed by Governor Ibrahim Geidam does not advice the NWC to reverse this undemocratic decision for the interest of the party in the 2019 elections because a house divided against itself cannot stand. So far, the Governor of the state, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello's advice to the reconciliatory committee that it can't guarantee its safety should be a strong signal that all is not well with the party in the state.

Taming an army of disgruntled party members is not a mean task and it will take a return of the stolen mandate to its rightful owners for normalcy to birth in the party. To say members are not pained, embittered and dagga drawn is to deny the reality on ground. One can smell and even feel the constricted venom against the APC's handling of the party primaries in Niger State.

It would be utopia not to assume gauging by the current feelings of party faithful in Niger State who feel robbed by the imposition of candidates on them by the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC may not have either decided to abstain from the 2019 elections if their candidates of choice names do not appear on the ballot or likely vote for opposition candidates going by the feelers coming from the camp of the supporters of these aggrieved and cheated senatorial aspirants, if urgent steps are not taken by the party to address their grievances.

Considering the huge turn out recorded in Niger State in support of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last general elections and the emboldening of the opposition by this lingering and needless crisis, it would be politically risky and irresponsible to ignore the impact this may have on the prospect of APC in the next general elections because as studies have shown, voters don't only identify with party but also with individuals, and the likes of Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa (313) and others alike command huge admiration and followership at the grassroots level because of their style of politics which is masses oriented.

According to Mallam Mustapha Aliyu who basically introduced himself as an APC member, "if the APC-led by Oshiomhole does not reverse its anti-people decision to impose on them unpopular candidates, then, there will be massive decamping of members from the APC". His sentiment was re-echoed by a lot of other people interviewed.

The beauty of democracy lies essentially in an individual's right to choice and the respect of the choice of the majority even if it is not in consonance with what one believes is best is the cornerstone of a representative democracy. And this is what differentiates a democracy from a monarchical or communist system of government. By depriving the people of Niger state their right to effective representation as reflected in their choice of candidates to represent the party in the Senate, APC is inadvertently setting the template for a disastrous outing for the party in the 2019 elections by replacing popular mandate with Abuja based politicians that do not enjoy grassroots legitimacy.

According to a resident of Minna, the state capital, Mallam Dahiru Mai Shayi, "if the APC imposes on us a senator who after almost four years in the Senate does not have anything to show to us then Insha Allah we shall never vote for such a person, instead we will do "angulu da kan zanzo" (meaning will do anti-party) by voting another person from whatever party". Needles to say that the majority of party faithful have been kept aback by this ugly development.

The average party faithful and potential voters by this crisis of mandate theft has been kept in the state of confusion and uncertainty about who are the genuine and legitimate senatorial candidates of the party from their respective senatorial zones. They wonder if Niger State is any different from Kaduna, Lagos and many other states that opted for direct primaries and where the will of the people prevails.

They ask what is the crime committed by loyal and dedicated members of APC in Niger State to have candidates for positions as sensitive as the Senate seats imposed on them? Is this how to pay them for the steadfast and commitment to the cause of the party? Is Niger APC no longer part of the larger APC family? Until the Oshiomhole-led NWC finds sincere answer to these questions, the process of reconciliation may just be an exercise in futility going by the discordant tunes of party faithful, from the governor to the state party exco, to all in Niger State.

Nigeria

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